I breastfed my daughter for 1.3 years and I am proud of doing it for her. By doing so, I gave her a healthy start that will make her stay healthy in the future. We all are aware that “a healthy mind and body is mandatory for leading a healthy life”.
Post delivering my daughter, I was fortunate to have everyone’s support, be it my husband, my in-laws, parents, and sister. I consider this as a blessing from God that during those difficult days; I could cope only because of their support and love. My daughter at the time of birth was too underweight as I had to go under emergency C-section due to very less fluid in my womb; she was delivered one month prior to the due date. Finally, she came to this world. Everyone was so ecstatic on her arrival but also deeply shocked to see her. She was too tiny, just 1.3kgs. She was kept in the nursery for a few days and was given expressed milk because she was too feeble to suck on her own. Initially, I could not produce enough milk because after the operation they put you on a liquid diet for almost 3-4 days. If you are not eating enough then how can you produce sufficient milk? But doctors and nurses made sure that they get that first milk from my breasts and squeezed the hell out of me during expressing that colostrum (milk in first 2-3 days after delivery). My doctor informed us that the first milk that the mother produces is full of antibodies and immunoglobulin, which helps protect newborns as they come into our world of bacteria and viruses. It’s as though you’re giving her, her first vaccination. (Someone once estimated that if human colostrum could be commercially manufactured with all the same antibodies and immunoglobulin in it, it would cost somewhere around $80 an ounce). There is a very popular myth around this colostrum that it should not be given to newborns. Don’t know where it originated from. But it is completely false!
In the first 15 days, my milk production was less. Everyone thought it was because of less eating. Yes, a good diet does contribute to milk production but it’s not the only factor that helps in milk secretion in breasts; it also depends on the infant. When an infant sucks the breasts, it increases the secretion of oxytocin and prolactin in the mother, which ultimately results in the increased secretion of milk. So the reason why I wasn’t producing enough was not ‘less eating’, it was because my baby wasn’t sucking, she was fed through a feeding tube.
Also, my mother used to tell me that always clean your nipples before feeding the baby. I was too tired and lazy to follow this. Then one day I asked my doctor about it, and then she told me it should not be cleaned every time as it removes the natural oils and dries the area. But make sure to maintain basic hygiene.
I remember we used to panic a lot when my daughter cries even after feeding session, some used to say that your milk is not enough for her. In the beginning, even I used to think like this but gradually as I became more confident in handling her I discovered other reasons for her crying. It could be anything, from tummy troubles to simple cuddling requirements of babies. But there may be a time when there is something serious with them. In that case, it is recommended to see a pediatrician. Our other concern was her poops, someday she would pass her stools 5-6 times per day and on the other day, she would not do it at all. It’s a myth that a breastfed baby must move his bowels a few times daily, but it’s not true. It is because of stooling patterns that these infants follow, so it is not a matter of worry.
There is another myth that infants need water in addition to being breastfed. However, the fact is breast milk itself contains water; no additional water is required to satiate them. In fact, introducing water or other liquid may cause an infection or reduce their interest towards mother’s milk. I never ever gave anything except my milk to my daughter until she became 6 months old.
There are some other myths that I heard from my mother-in-law and mother- like a mother should not breastfeed the baby when she is ill and baby may catch a cold if you breastfeed her right after taking head bath. But on googling and also, in reality, I did not find them correct. I had breastfed her whenever I caught cold and fever as mother’s milk provides antibodies to baby to fight against any infection then how can it infect her (unless it is some major disease like HIV or cancer)? Also baby may catch a cold if he’s in contact with someone suffering from a cold or is not appropriately dressed or is wet for a long period of time. It has nothing to do with a mother feeding the baby right after taking head bath.
The other myth that had made me suffer is- Breastfeeding mother should eat certain food items & avoid some others. In the first 15 days post-delivery, when I was at my in-law’s place, I was given dal, doodh, daliya, halwa and fruits only. I could not eat everything cooked for other family members in the pretext of it may harm the baby’s stomach. I felt so outer cast. But when I went to my mother’s place she let me ate everything and that really made me happy from the inside and I was lactating enough for my baby and she was also happy and perfectly fine.
The thing is “a breastfeeding mother needs to be happy from the inside and only her loved ones can do so by providing her full support and a comfortable environment at home”. A poor start can indeed make breastfeeding difficult for both mother and baby. The first 1000 days – from conceiving to toddler-hood – are the most crucial for the baby. So Mums, Good luck and take care!
Note: This article was originally published by me here.